Wednesday, April 25, 2018

I Feel Flitty, Oh So Flitty

If you see a really cute little bird about the size of a tailed ping pong ball and you decide it's a bushtit, you're probably wrong. Bushtits don't come in ones. You see a solitary bushtit and you've just seen the saddest thing on the planet, this close to dying of lonesomeness.

We've got a neighbor like that too. He likes to sit on his front stoop and his buddies show up and after a while they're a wee bit likkered up and then they're jabbering all over each other, happy as clams at high tide. It doesn't seem like they could possibly be listening to each other, but they probably are, and it's exactly the same with the bushtits. You might get thirty of them in a bunch and they even go to the bathroom together. Of course, birds are going to the bathroom all the time.

So if you do have a genuine bushtit, you've got a raft of them all going off at once, and the only exception is right about now, during mating season. That's the only time they pair off. I don't know how the female chooses a mate but I don't think she can go wrong. If there's something she likes about one male bushtit, it's likely to be equally right with all of them.

Photo By Mary Jansen
I particularly like bushtits because unlike some people I could mention (I'm looking at you, Marge and Studley Windowson), it's real easy to tell the boys from the girls. The boys have sexy brown eyes and the girls have haunting yellow eyes. They're always being described as "drab" but that's only because brownish doesn't strike a lot of people as a color. Even when it's soft mouse gray and chocolate Necco candy brown.

Anyway, the bushtits, in a burst of springtime inspiration and hormones that they would otherwise not know what to do with, do pair off for just as long as it takes to get a nice nest started. It's a woven sock, maybe a foot long. There's a hole in the top of the sock for entry and then a little passageway to the bouncy bottom part. The suckers are so well constructed, using lichens and grasses and fur and spider silk for the Spandex effect, that they are still intact the following spring and even the one after that, but nobody uses it again. They start over. Everybody likes a good project. And there's always lots of help. That's unusual among birds.

Photo By Mary Jansen
The female does most of the work on the bottom part where the eggs will go, and probably turns the heel, and the male works on the rest. They might spend a month at it, but as you can probably guess, that's a long time for bushtits to go without the whole gang, so at some point all the unmarried members of the flock show up and pitch in. Is there anything cheerfuler than a sock full of bushtits? Nobody knows who's who for a while, but eventually the eggs drop out of one of them, and she and her mate both sit them, and meanwhile the hangers-on are all in there too. They should have knitted panty hose.

Two of these photos are courtesy of fellow Portlander Mary Jansen, a Friend Of Pootie and spectacular artist.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Rats! Rats! Rats!

What could be worse than a bunch of rats running around in the house, I thought? Didn't take long to find out.

A rat no longer running around in the house.

A rat three days past running around anywhere.

In the cold air return. Way, way in.

When we have company staying over.

Not the kind of company where it's all the same to you if they suddenly discover they need to rush home for their dog's spa treatment. The nice kind. The sweet kind of people that speak gently with their sweaters bunched up past their noses and say it's hardly noticeable.

This is the sort of thing that makes an adult out of you in a hurry. The duct system in the house hasn't been cleaned since it was installed, twenty years ago. So it's probably time to schedule that. And mention the rodent, in case they can do something about it.

And maybe it's time to tackle the little holes up on the roofline where the Rat Guy said the rats were getting in. Even though you're pretty sure they're getting in other ways too. And replace the siding on that steep dormer wall that you put off replacing ten years ago.

So I went on Yelp and within an hour I had a licensed contractor who could clean the ducts and come out the next morning at nine, plus another one who could replace the siding and thwart the rats at eight. That seemed auspicious in itself. The first worked at a flat fee, and the second worked by the hour plus materials. Neither was in the slave class that most of us would prefer to employ. You know. The independent operator who'd prefer to be paid in cash, thank you, and works real hard and does a nice job and doesn't contribute to Social Security or public education or the war effort or anything. Nothing against those guys, but I'm a union girl and a bit of a socialist. So.

The siding guys came out and the clock began ticking. Beyond materials there would also be a charge for the dumpster, and instead of it taking a half day as I had imagined, they were looking at three. The duct guys came out and stuck their entire heads in the cold air return, emerging with their hair falling out in clumps and in full agreement that there was an ex-rodent in there. They couldn't promise they'd get him, but sometimes they did get something sucked up in the vacuum. That was okay. I'd read up, and knew to expect that. I wouldn't have stuck my personal head in that vent for twice what they were charging.

You know how fun it is to drop a little money on something really nice and new and pretty? A piece of art, a new sofa? This isn't like that.

They're hammering on the outside of the house, and inside a vacuum is set up, right next to the imaginary stack of $100 bills flipping over one by one and disappearing down the vent.

The duct guys left and wished me the best of luck. They hoped they'd gotten the little bugger.

They didn't. I think they did stir him up a little, though. In a week or so it will turn into a harmless cracker.

Next up: flies.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

White Poop Post

It's true. The last time Dave and I took a walk we saw white dog poop. It's an artifact, like nesting Pyrex bowls in four colors. Aluminum tumblers. Wax lips.

White dog poop.

I'm not the first to wonder whatever happened to white dog poop. You used to see it everywhere. Now there are way more dogs and not as much poop, and it's not likely to be white. We kids rolled around in the dirt all day, and between the chigger bites and the dog poop, we ended up with titanium immune systems that could thwart a virus from Mars. Today's kids are staring at screens and staying tidy and trying to decide whether they'd rather perish from asthma or food allergies if the ear infections don't take them down first.

As I recall the poop didn't come out white but turned white after petrification, which took a day or two. I looked it up, and the reason we used to have white dog poop was we used to feed dogs bones. Not only bones, but they weren't scoring the Alpo exclusively by any means. If you didn't give your dog bones, you'd just have to throw the bones out. And the bones were just part of the meal. A lot of dogs will eat a pair of socks on a Frisbee with Tinker-toy topping just in case it was tasty, and you don't even need to fuss with the presentation. Basically, anything you didn't personally want to finish, including your homework, went to the dog.

The bones gave the poop a nice armature and the rest of the goo leached out, leaving a turd-shaped wad of white calcium. Like the white turd we just saw. I checked: there was fur in it. We do have coyotes. And they ain't eating Alpo, unless that's your cat's name.

Our old dog Boomer had a little hitch in her git-along one day and I made an appointment with the vet, who instructed me to bring along some of her poop just for drill, so I followed her around the yard for an hour waiting for a deposit. She finally pushed out a stick of chalk and I gathered as many crumbles of it into a bag as I could and presented it to the vet, who looked at me in horror and derision. "What are you feeding that dog?" he demanded, in a tone of voice inappropriate to a man who was about to give me an invoice in three figures.

Well how the hell should I know? She wouldn't eat kibble. That dog had the run of the neighborhood and was cute as the dickens and I know the next-door neighbor fed her from his own plate, and God knows what the bartender at the Homestead Tavern tossed her before dialing us up to let us know where she was (again). Probably bones. The vet scolded me up one side and down the other and handed me a bill for telling me our dog was too long for her legs and would probably have back trouble for the rest of her life. I took her home and she bounced out of the car and never limped again.

Evidently modern dogs are as sensitive to poor quality food as their owners are sensitive to advertising. All I know is you can get turned in to the Humane Society for feeding them Store Brand Kibble instead of premium fare with the correct balance of nutrition particles and organic bison nuts, designed to replicate an ancestral diet. It's all antelope haunch, prairie grass, and caveman socks, and if it doesn't drain your wallet, you should be ashamed.

But the dogs of my youth did fine, until they got run over. It was quick. a '56 Buick wouldn't even leave a wet spot.

Saturday, April 14, 2018


Smack me if I ever complain about ants again.

Coming up on forty springs we've lived in this house and none of the relevant gods has seen fit to drop rats on us, until now. We had a bit of a mouse thing going on in the early years. Taking care of that looked like it would involve cleaning up after ourselves in the kitchen, which might have interfered with our drinking. Then we became tidy people. We threw out the stove which had gone mouse-condo and got new appliances. Mice showed up just often enough to entertain the cat. She stalked the dishwasher and came up with a genuine rodent about once a year. Cute little guys. They say if you see one mouse, you have five thousand. I couldn't prove it. Seems more like we just get the one.

They say the same thing about rats. I hadn't seen any in the house. However, judging by whatever is thundering across the attic above the kitchen, and given that no one else in town has reported a capybara infestation, I'm entertaining the possibility that we have lots and lots of rats, or possibly small bison. We called pest control.

This is the kind of problem you take care of yourself when you're young, but now we're more inclined to pitch money at it. Especially when our Tyvek suits are at the cleaners.

Nice outfit. They don't use poison, which we all know (right?) can ramificate the hawk population pretty fierce. They try to determine where the rats are coming in and either plug it up or direct us to (direct someone else to) plug it up, and then they come back with traps and remove the rodents. A week later they do it again, until finally they come up empty.

The guy thought our entry-point culprits were a couple spots at the top of the roofline that looked chewed-on. This would allow entry into the second-floor attic, from which point (said he) they work their way down the walls and into the kitchen attic, which is lower. He wanted me to call a roofer.

This seemed implausible to me. So I didn't do anything.

Then I noticed poop in the kitchen. Near the sofa. I swept it up. The next day, more poop. I'm a huge proponent of denial when it comes to problems, but finally I pulled the sofa away from the wall and found many more poops, a scouting party of ants, and a neat cache of Iams Healthy Adult Cat Kibble. I read up.

Good news! Mice and rats are likely to drop a deuce fifty times a day. So the collection I had could have been a single rodent over three days, or a threesome overnight. Not so bad. I swept up, Windexed the crap out of the floor, and bought mouse traps, because I am optimistic.

Two of the traps were sprung and all the peanut butter licked off without sign of violence.

Rat behavior.

Rats don't hunt much if they don't have to. They forage. Kibble is super easy to transport and store. It's better than rooting through the Dumpster. It's convenient.

The sofa didn't smell right. I blamed my nose for a couple days and then turned the sofa over. There was a hole in the dust cover fabric. I cut the fabric off. Ten thousand turds tumbled out. I threw out the fabric, cleaned up the turds, sprayed everything in sight with everything this side of napalm, and considered myself lucky I foiled them before they could bring in the tiny TV for the Spring Break Party. Also, I put away the bowl of cat kibble every night. If Tater gets hungry, she can just go find herself a rat. And I called the roofer.

It isn't much different with climate change. It's the poop that betrays us--all that carbon we've hauled out of the earth and shot into the sky. And if we want to do anything about the poopetrators, first thing we have to take away the kibble. But we loves our kibble. We wantss our kibble. All that plastic packaging, and heat and AC at the flick of a switch, and instant transportation? It's so convenient. Mmm, kibble.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

At Last, A Cure For Adult Onset Panty Despoilment

I get my most reliable medical information from the full-page spreads in the newspaper that say "Paid Advertisement" at the top. You should never trust an advertisement that's purchased on credit. This recent one caught my eye:

Pills May Replace Diapers And Padded Underwear At Stores

This is an exciting development, although I'd think it would have to be a really large, spongey pill. The pill in question is called UriVarx and according to the ad it "contains ingredients that keeps the bladder from releasing voluntarily." There's no further explanation, so I assume the pill, with its ingredients, gets lodged in the exit hole of the bladder. I do have some limited acquaintance with Adult Onset Panty Despoilment and despite the difficulties the condition presents, I would prefer--call me a urinary libertarian--to maintain my bladder's ability to release voluntarily. But corking the sucker up altogether might be an attractive option in the short run.

According to WebMD, the main symptom of urinary incontinence is involuntary release of urine from the bladder. (Similarly, nausea is characterized by a barfy feeling.) According to the proprietor of the UriVarx ad, the unfortunately named Dr. Damaj, your bladder muscles weaken as you age. This doesn't surprise me in the least. Judging from the condition of the muscles on the outside of me, I suspect everything inside is flapping away in there like hung laundry.

Many UriVarx users report that their bladders have never been stronger. Some of them are positively ripped. And "adult pads and diapers are no longer a worry." This is a relief! You get a closet full of those and you never know when they're going to turn on you. Marie L. of Danbury, CT exults that thanks to UriVarx, she is no longer living in constant fear of finding a bathroom. This is a serious concern. Those suckers are everywhere; there's no getting away from them.

Furthermore, "research shows that as we get older, the muscles which surround the bladder weaken. This is caused by hormonal changes in the body that causes the muscles to weaken." This brings to mind several questions:

(1) Are the muscles that surround the bladder supposed to be intimidating?

(2) Are there any good money in pharmaceutical advertisement editing?

Coincidentally, another full-page ad two pages later also featured the pioneering work of Dr. Damaj. "Apeaz" (pronounced either Appease or Ape-Ass) is an arthritis painkilling cream. Its "powerful effect is created by the cream's active ingredient, a special medical compound." Even better, every container of Apeaz comes with a breakthrough pill named ArthriVarx, which also contains special compounds.

ArthriVarx is probably related to UriVarx. I'm holding out for AardiVarx, which has been shown to cure ants. Or its predecessor ArchaeoVarx, with its key stomping ingredients and tiny little arms. You rub it on Jurassic.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

All That And A Bag Of Cheeps

It was a great day at the zoo. In recognition of International Frog Day, my friend Shawn and I spent the day posing in front of our Frog Taxi poster, explaining why we shuttle frogs across the highway during their winter migration to their breeding ponds and back again. Shawn is the Frog Queen, pretty much, having started the taxi service to begin with (along with our friend Rob). She is even featured in the poster, in her headlamp tiara. But we also had the Frog Princess in the (firm, young) flesh. There is such a thing as a Frog Princess. Evidently. I guess if we absolutely must be obsessed with princesses and we absolutely must dress our little girls in pink tulle all the dang time, it's good we have at least one Frog Princess.

So we were all set, royalty-wise. And we greeted many young parents with their eager spawn at their sides, and did a little recruiting for the frog-shuttle team, which now boasts some eighty volunteers. There was something a little rough-looking about one father, but he did pay attention, and declared "his boy" would be our best frog-nabber, because he can git 'em like nobody's business. There was something about him that made me wonder what the boy does with the frogs he gits, but I kept that to myself. And he listened to our whole spiel, the breeding pond, the migration, the intervening Highway Of Death, and then he said:

"So, what good are frogs? What do they do for us?"

Awesome! Clearly, here was an opportunity to educate. Out of the goodness of my heart, I left that opportunity to Shawn, while I excused myself to wander off to a corner where my thoughts wouldn't leak out. Primarily: What the hell good are you, dipwad?

I often think I would have been a good teacher, once we got past that paddlin' I'd have to administer to get my students' attention. So much is lost when there hasn't been any foundation laid about our puny place in the universe, and people have grown all the way into adulthood with blinders of ignorance on, allowing them to imagine that their own needs are paramount, and can be fulfilled with a big TV and a big car to roar around in and a bag of chips and some foldin' money; and the trail of detritus we leave behind has no consequence. I simply don't know where to start to answer a question like his, although there are many answers. I do know when to start. With kids.

That's one of the reasons I keep humiliating myself in the Birdathon van: to raise money for the Portland Audubon Society, with its great educational outreach. Yes, once again, after a year off to think about what I've done, I am going to sally forth and attempt to identify one single bird species before anyone else does, with all day to do it. We're likely to spot over a hundred, so you'd think this would be easy, but it's not. Eleven other people in that van are going to be confidently hollering out bird IDs from chips and squeaks and dots in the sky and tricks of the light, and I'm going to be pointing and saying ooo ooo ooo like a chimpanzee. It's mortifying. My method is to get one in the brain pan all ready to fire and wait for it to flit by. I do get marginally better every year but I am to bird-watching what Kim Kardashian is to erudition.

Hear ye! Hear ye!
That's not fair. I don't actually know who Kim Kardashian is, which means it's possible she's a bird.

Anyway, I do have a donation page you can toss an eyeball at, and go ahead and pitch in if you want. I'd like to help Portland Audubon teach the children well, and preserve something to teach them about. Get the little dickenses outside noticing things besides themselves, before they grow up and think they're all that and a bag of chips.

Would you like to help me raise funds for Portland Audubon? You can do it right here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Crone Is In

"That's why old ladies' houses are so messy. We can't see it, and we don't give a shit." That's what my friend Gayle says.

I never did have good eyesight, but I'd say the number of shits given tracks closely and inversely with age. And the number of shits given has a lot to do with how much we care what other people think of us. The older we get, the less we care. Personally, I think either people have a decent enough opinion of me, or they're wrong, or they may be right but I don't give a shit.

There's another aspect to it. If I've gotten to be this age without keeling over, I assume I've been doing things okay. The dust mites in my pillow aren't going to take me down. The spiders who are enjoying my hospitality and my disinclination to use the vacuum are not interested in biting me.

So consider this a warning if you want to drop by. You will find a friendly cat at the front door and lots of beer in the fridge. Dave will have seen to it that the toilet is clean. But you're not going to find the toilet seat lid down. If it is, I'm either indulging your delicate sense of vulnerability, or I had to stand on the toilet to reach something. But it won't be because I really believe the toilet sprays fecal matter all over the bathroom every time I flush. Because I don't believe that. Even if I'm wrong, it hasn't made me sick yet.

As far as I'm concerned, I'm part of my own ecosystem, and I don't want to mess anything up as long as everything's going okay. I don't believe that ecosystems work because Nature designs them that way. Nature doesn't plan any more than I do. Whatever you see in a given ecosystem is a snapshot of What Works Now. If circumstances change, the components will change with them.

So what you see in my house is what works for me now. It's going to be somewhat tidy, but not excessively tidy, because I will have struck a balance between my wish to not be visually burdened with clutter and my wish to not actually do a lot of work. If my writing room is tidy, I have writer's block. And I never have writer's block, so there will be crap all over in there. And no part of the house is going to be actually clean.

If you judge me for that, no hard feelings: I don't give a shit.

I haven't decided what, if anything, to do with the roof rats that have moved in above our kitchen. I never even know they're there until about eleven o'clock at night, when they start rough-housing and plotting and scraping their teeth on stuff. I do find this disturbing. So maybe I'll start going to bed earlier.

If I did have a plan, the plan would be to live to 99 and then go down fast and hard from late-onset hantavirus, dust mite allergy, spider bite, and fecal contamination.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Brain Lube

Dear Facebook thread person,

I'm back. I had a sudden need for a beer, and now I feel calmer.

With regard to your suggestion that we "agree to disagree LOL," fine. We can agree to disagree on the topics of abortion and where exactly to draw the line on socialism, and we can move on. As for the rest, I will agree to disagree with you right after I finish discussing trouser design with a sea urchin. At that point I will consider your suggestion, if you complete and submit the following exam. Please use the #2 pencil you will find up your butt.

1. Look at the following graph depicting global temperature rise and atmospheric carbon concentration over the last two hundred years. Are the two lines:
     A. Similar
     B. Different
     C. Matched up snugger than lube in a rectum

2. Explain the semantic difference between the theory of evolution and that theory you have about the pharmaceutical industry slipping vaccines in Skittles in order to make a killing on autism medication later.

3. Re: Colin Kaepernick's demonstration of discontent during the national anthem. Was he:
     A. Protesting the American flag?
     B. Disrespecting our armed forces?
     C. Other?
Support your answer using original source material (Colin Kaepernick's own words).

Not him. You don't know him.
4. If you answered A or B above, name at least one African-American friend of yours, and the amount of time you have listened to them explain what the Black Lives Matter movement means to them, without interrupting.

5. Essay: Write 500 words about that time someone online called you a racist and it really really pissed you off for days because nobody has any goddam right to make assumptions about you when they don't even know you. What can we learn about how that feels?

6. On a scale of one to ten, how likely do you think it is that Hillary Clinton was personally involved in a child molestation ring out of a pizza joint in Washington, D.C. while simultaneously selling uranium to the Ukraine and arranging for the murder of up to a dozen individuals?

7. If you answered any number higher than zero, above, does this indicate Ms. Clinton's superior stamina and skill, or Satanic possession?

8. Take a look at the following two photographs: a diverse intact mountain ecosystem in West Virginia, and a poisoned, barren butte emptied of coal, all of which has already been burned up. List ten advantages of each. If you cite "bocce ball" as a plus in the barren-butte column, please note the last time you got on your hands and knees to personally admire a salamander. If you can't remember, please go back to your childhood and start the fuck over. Get a decent education along the way, with a foundation of critical thinking skills and a good grounding in science and history.

If you then make it past voting age and still want to agree to disagree, we can discuss appropriate medication at that time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

What Snot To Like?

I might have recently referred to fiber as the scrub brush of the intestines. Move it along, fiber says, slapping its little nightstick in its little palm. Without it, your poop has no motivation. That's sort of the way people looked at fiber for a long time, but it turns out to be not exactly true. Fiber is way more important than that, and it is implicated in way more health issues, although unmotivated poop is no bag of giggles.

It all has to do with those bacteria we're all harboring. Bacteria, some of them, eat what we can't eat, like fiber. We didn't invite them, actually, but they go where the food is, like everyone else, and we've set up the big buffet in our intestines, and word got out.

Every living thing is all about finding energy to operate. Plants, bacteria, us, we're all looking for fuel. If it were not so, the people who study us would be called geologists. So we eat plants and animals for energy and bacteria finish off the bits we can't. If we never had them, all our food would slide out with the nutrients removed but otherwise recognizable and ready to plate up again. But because we have evolved with the bacteria, at this point we need them. And since they're here, we have to figure out what to do about them. That's where mucus comes in.

Gut snot, basically. We've got lots, and maybe at one time we thought it was about slicking up the poop delivery system, but there's more to it than that. We need lots of mucus to keep the bacteria away from our delicates. They ride on top of the mucus layer and do their thing and don't bother us. They also send little chemical messages to our intestinal lining to beef up the mucus. But if we don't get enough fiber, our bacteria falter and our mucus thins out. That puts the bacteria a little too close to our intestinal walls and that triggers an immune reaction, and ultimately chronic inflammation, which is bad news all around.

Not all bacteria get energy from the same sources. Some of our bacteria get energy from the fiber, and other bacteria get energy from the first bacteria's poop. It's an ecosystem, and fiber is what holds it together. You withdraw the fiber, and the populations crash. The bacteria that are left behind might start attacking the mucus layer. Out of spite, probably. Then you get your inflammation and that War On Terror that the heightened immune system represents. Nothing good can come of it.

It all seems as though it was designed, but that kind of misrepresents what's happened. Any kind of working ecosystem is basically a truce. If we didn't have bacteria foraging around us for whatever they like to eat, but instead had packysnappers, we'd look quite different. Maybe packysnappers like to eat fingernails and claws and such, and if we evolved with packysnappers, we'd judge each other's attractiveness on the basis of the plumpness of our cuticles. Instead, we've got bacteria and gut snot.

So that's the system we've got. And that's why we should be stuffing kale and sweet potatoes into it. And not throwing in stuff like antacids. That's like putting up a wall. Or threatening to nuke. Not good. That's asking for trouble. That's when you get your headache, your nausea, irritability, weakness, reduced kidney function, fascism, and acid rebound.

Kale is diplomacy.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Popeye Was Right

Like many of you, I've heard how important it is to have fiber in my diet, but I wasn't clear what, exactly, fiber is. When I thought about it at all, I thought it must be something like rope. So I looked it up. Dietary fiber refers to the indigestible portions of food made from plants. It used to be more commonly known as "roughage" back in the days people used cool evocative words instead of inferior replacement words. You can get lots of nice digestible gooey bits and nutrients from plants; the fiber would be in all those sturdifying parts of a plant that keep it from getting floppy.

Basically, rope.

There are many types of fiber. There's your cellulose, as epitomized by celery; there's your mucilage, which is found in oats and also little jars with rubber nipply tops; there's lignin, which is found in beans and fruits, and wants to be coal when it grows up; chitin, located in the exoskeleton of insects and the really crunchy parts of crabs; and many others. Good sources of dietary fiber include beans, dark green vegetables, whole grains, fruit, and burlap. Artichokes are packed with fiber, but a lot of that is the leafy part you throw away after you've toothed the butter off of it. Peas are good also, and okra, which is high in both fiber and snot.

You're not going to get any fiber from an animal, unless you eat the string around the roast beef, or unless it was wearing a little cotton sweater. Nonetheless, people have done just fine with an all- or nearly-all-meat diet, such as my Uncle Irvin, who reportedly never touched a salad or green vegetable in his life, although he happily suffered the potato, which is another vehicle for butter. But he was a Norwegian and as such could count on a minimum of 85 happy years, as long as the butter held out.

It is claimed that the Inuit people traditionally ate virtually nothing but meat, from caribou, fish, whale, and seal, and did just fine. In order to survive, they ate some of the meat raw, to retain the vitamin C, and also ate the skin and hooves and what-have-you, and also got their greens by eating the stomach contents of the caribou. That strikes me as one crappy salad, although it wouldn't surprise me if Norwegians had a recipe for it. It would include butter. I don't know. The whole situation would have me rethinking my location. Maybe I'm over-delicate, but I'd snap a tooth on a hoof.

Generally speaking, however, you need roughage. Roughage is the boat your shit sails out on, and without it, your Cheez Whiz and burger just mill around in the intestine for days, enjoying the ambience. Fiber is nature's scrub brush, and is even said to ward off hemorrhoids. Or maybe just grind them off. Either way.

There are animals that can digest cellulose, but you don't want to be any of them. They all make a point of enslaving colonies of cellulose-digesting microbes; they include horses, cows, goats, koala bears, giraffes, and termites. Ruminants not only engage the microbes to bust up their grasses, but repeatedly throw up in their mouths for a re-chew. And all of these, especially the termite, are gassy as the dickens.

Which is fine in moderation. Flatulence, in fact, is considered a downside of a high fiber diet, but only by people suffering from undue decorum. But you can fix undue decorum with enough fiber.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Yanking My Keychain

Most of my friends have thoroughly grownup children now, and it still startles me to hear the way they talk. They've made sure their kids are fully versed in and prepared for adulthood in a way our own parents failed to, even talking frankly about S - E - you-know-what. So my friends' daughters will rattle on about penises right in front of their moms and everybody is totally cool about it, except me. It's not the subject matter part that bothers me. It's the WITH YOUR MOM part.

My own mom gave me only the most necessary information concerning highly personal hygiene, just enough to keep me from running to the school nurse screaming the moment I became a woman, not that we used inflammatory words like "woman." Ours was a family that didn't even say "down there." Just as we can infer the existence of a black hole by the behavior of nearby stars dancing around it, I learned what is never to be explicitly talked about by what Mom and Dad danced around. It was understood. We had a deal. They let me know exactly what their standards were and what they expected from me for eighteen or so years, and in return I knew exactly what to never, ever talk about. I learned the nature of problems I was to take to my doctor or my friends but not my parents. We certainly never sat around talking about penises.

I don't have a kid. I have a laptop, and it's young. I can tell. If my laptop could volunteer anything about its private life, it wouldn't hesitate. It would tell me who it met out in the Cloud and what it was doing with them. The little sucker is flapping its digital lips all day long. I really don't want to know. I bought it and brought it home and plugged it in and hoped it would have the good sense to do whatever it wanted to do and not bother me with it, but no. I just want to get in and take 'er for a spin but as soon as we snap the seat belts on, it lets up on the gas and says Safari is using an encrypted connection. Encryption with a digital certificate keeps information private as it's sent to or from the website. Okay?

Fine! Duly noted. I don't need to hear all that stuff. And thanks for offering to show the certificate, but some things aren't meant to be seen. Keep it to yourself. You don't need to ask for permission every time you go anywhere. Just be careful, have fun, and don't give me any of the details.

Likewise all this bullshit about the passwords. I don't know what the passwords are. You're supposed to be the smart one, you tell me. I do remember that there was some simple setup procedure when I got this thing and I dutifully plowed through a bunch of stuff before hitting a logjam of some kind and quitting. I was supposed to come up with all these passwords for this that and the other, and every time I did, it said it was crappy and I should pick another. I started writing them down, expecting the interrogation to end, and finally gave up when it kept asking me ever more obscure things I didn't know the answer to. As a result, my laptop can't play on the Cloud after all, which is why it keeps asking me all the time. My cat still thinks we're going to open the back door for her, too.

Safari wants to use the "Local Items" keychain. Well fine! I gave it to you once, it's in your room somewhere, and if you would pick up after yourself every now and then you'd be able to find it. Oh all right. Hold on. Here it is. Last time, I swear.

Safari would like to use your iCloud keychain password.

Great! I'd like to have Sophia Loren's cheekbones but you don't see me whining about it every two seconds.

And if you need some damn keychain so bad just sneak it off the dresser like a normal kid, go on your toot, and put it back before I wake up. That's called being considerate.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Dave's Unicorn

So Dave came home from a walk the other day and I asked him what-all he'd seen and he said Nothing, and then he thought about it for a moment and said Oh yeah I saw a unicorn, and I said Where, and he said Over on Edgehill Place, and then we talked about dinner. But later I circled back to it because it seemed odd to me that if he were to see a legitimate mythical beast it would be a unicorn. Neither of us has the kind of affection for unicorns that most people have. Seems to me if you're going to string together a lot of odd features into one critter, you could do better than a horse that can spindle you with his head. Not that you hear a lot about unicorn spindlings in the news. Perhaps they're bred to be unaggressive. If they're doing anything at all, historically, they're sitting on the ground with their heads in a pretty girl's lap. That comes from the notion that only a young virgin can tame a unicorn, wink wink, like we don't know what that's about.

If I'd had a thing for such beasts when I was a young wink-wink, it probably would've been a centaur. Flying horses looked nice but I was afraid of heights and didn't even fly in my dreams. The centaur is designed to be appealing. Unlike the mermaid, which is all come-hither on the top end and sorry-Charlie on the bottom end, the centaur promises all the parts, and in a big way. We can see how all this came about. Men were in charge of writing this stuff up, and when they visualized their handsome top halves, they made sure to include impressive equipment on the bottom half. But when they visualized half of a beautiful woman, they made sure to make her endlessly frustrating, just like women are in real life, so they can go crazy and feel comfortable and justified about killing things.

But why a spiral horn? Why not a horse with tusks, or plates down its back, or long graceful fingers? Well, there were probably a number of extant critters that could qualify as a unicorn, at least in description. They've been cited going back many thousands of years. In fact there used to be a large mammal called an Elasmotherium that ran like a horse and had a single giant horn on its head, and although it lacked delicacy, we've had thousands of years since we made it go extinct to shine up its reputation. Earlier ones had elephant feet, and maybe a boar's tail, and it took hundreds of years of playing "telephone" across Europe to recombobulate it from a rhinoceros to a virgin-friendly equid.

And the spiral horn of a narwhal is what was generally presented as a unicorn horn. Back in the day, it was common for people to take found bones and odd, unrelated parts and assemble them into all sorts of things that never existed, the same way Republicans cherrypick data, email, and random lies to make the case that climate change is a hoax. People bought into it then, too.

Dave reports his unicorn was not two men in pajamas and a papier-mache head. It was quite authentic right down to the hooves and sparkles, and was being led down the street by one or several princesses to reintroduce it to its native habitat, a child's birthday party. This is what happens when real estate prices go through the roof.

I'm glad for him that he saw it, and now I'm looking around for my centaur. Just my luck he'll turn up with a pot belly and a T-shirt that reads "If you can read this, the bitch fell off" on the back.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Buck Shtups Here

Everyone bemoans the existence of dirty money in politics, although in the case of Ana Lisa Garza, who is running for a seat in the State House in Texas, it might not be dirty so much as a little schmutzy. The majority of her $87,000 war chest came in the form of deer semen.

Garza is going to require a lot of spunk to unseat the incumbent, who has previously garnered 100% of the vote.

Presumably, there is nothing illegal about the campaign contributions, although if there were, no one is eager to investigate it. The donations should result in some slick campaign literature, and make it easier to smear an opponent.

It was a surprise to me that there is such a thing as a deer breeder, inasmuch as in many parts of the country, including urban areas, deer are so prolific that they need to be regularly spatulaed off the roadways and no one gets to eat their own lettuce. It didn't seem like there would be much call for any deer semen, let alone banks of frozen buck butter.

But that is because I had heretofore been unable to imagine the existence or desirability of a deer with a rack of antlers that look like broccoli.

The semen is stored in straws and frozen in banks of liquid nitrogen. One straw of ejaculungulate can be worth up to $10,000, and it is possible to acquire up to 60 straws of campaign donations in a single, um, collection. That's some big bucks.

I do not know how deer semen is acquired in a straw, and am not eager to investigate it. It sounds like the sort of thing you'd get an illegal immigrant to do.

As it turns out, the process involves a rectal probe and an electrical pulse which inspires the buck to ejaculate.

Once the straws are filled, they are frozen and kept in banks. Many of the people who buy the straws do not get custody of the actual straws. It's a tradable commodity; someone buys $50,000 worth of semen straws from someone else and they are transferred to his account, but not removed from the tank. For all we know, this is what bitcoins are.

Deer farming is big business in Texas. Breeders are often focused on antler size and the resulting freaks are transported to high-fenced shooting preserves. Bucks with antlers the size of Christmas trees do not live as long as wild deer, if allowed to try, but they're generally put out for the hunt. They're human-raised and unwary, so all the hunter needs to do is park his fanny and wait for an eight-million point buck to wander by and look up in anticipation of a nice apple or something. A fair number of people make money off this and it's probably a great idea for breeders to purchase a few legislators here and there to ward off the pansies who might raise a fuss.

But if the business is ever shut down, there might be good money in rectal probes.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Junco By Any Otter Name

Since I was just complaining about taxonomists throwing all my varied juncos into the same bucket but separating identical chickadees, I thought I'd revisit what constitutes a distinct species. Seems to me there was something about a group of organisms being a species if individuals in the group are able to interbreed.

Which of course made me think of sea otters, because sea otters like to breed with anything. They don't really care. If it has a hole, they're going to poke it. If your cocker spaniel is off leash on the beach and you hear it go bark bark blub blub, you should run hurry and get ready to whack the otter. Because they'll just keep hammering away at your dog, and holding its head underwater until it's dead, and then they'll keep going, because it takes a while to notice a cocker spaniel is dead in cold water, plus they don't care.

So are otters and cocker spaniels the same species? Most experts agree they are not. The breeding may have been successful from a recreational standpoint, but a total bust from a viable-offspring standpoint. One successful pairing of a sea otter with a basset hound was ruled as an outlier when the resulting pups failed to thrive. The long ears of the mother were able to keep the pups from floating off, but were subject to an unfortunate kelp entanglement.

Okay. I just checked, and there hasn't been a recorded case of sea otters attacking cocker spaniels. That turns out to be a part of my fevered imagination, poor data retention, and the fact that sea otters are known to rape seal pups. Someone in Alaska did report an assault on his sled dog, but you never know about those stories. It's lonely up there. Could be the guy just likes to whack his otter.

The whole species business gets crazy with birds. We have this urge to drop every living thing into its own slot, but birds have a way of ignoring the boundaries, and things change, and sometimes we decide to split a species, and sometimes we decide to lump two or more together, as was done with my juncos. There's a whole committee devoted to this, and every year it gets together and decides if a given bird deserves its own designation or has to keep pretending it's the same thing as a whole other bird. It's like the Hall of Fame, and it's contentious. Just ask Pete Rose-Breasted Grosbeak. But if you're lazy and have a bird list, you could check it against the new lumps and splits every year, and maybe you'll be able to add a Purple-Capped Fruit-Dove to your Crimson-Crowned Fruit-Dove without even getting your ass out of the Barcalounger. Birders love splits. I want my juncos re-split.

Meanwhile, dozens of gulls are soberly proclaimed to be different citizens on the basis of invisible dots on the bill and random imaginary variations on white and gray, seen against a mottled gray sky. I am willing to go along with lumps if we can call them all Seagulls, like everyone else does.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Junco Drawer

When you do start noticing birds, you find yourself becoming familiar with their habits. You might notice that the juncos, for instance, park their fannies on the feeder and hoover sunflower seeds. If the seeds still have hulls, those go flying off like Frisbees and the meat goes down the hatch and it's on to the next seed. That's not a big feat--I've seen Norwegians do the same thing. But a chickadee pops up and takes one single sunflower meat out and runs to the nearest branch with it. It then pins the meat down with one adorable little toe and shaves it down until it's gone, and then it thinks about maybe going in for another. They're very dainty. The chickadee is eating grapefruit sections with a serrated spoon, pinkie extended, and the junco is on the beanbag chair dumping a bag of chips in his face.

I'm assuming the chickadee is a pluck-and-go guy because he's cautious. This doesn't seem to be a factor with the juncos, who actually spend less time at the feeder proper than they do on the ground underneath. That's where they spend most of their time, which is a pity, because so does my neighbor's cat, Sid. Juncos don't care. They look around and all they see is other juncos all over the place and they figure odds are it's some other guy who's going to get whacked.

I have gobs of juncos and they don't look alike. They have white outer tail feathers and they flick them when they fly, and that's about all they have in common. We have dark-headed ones and gray-headed ones and ones with brown sides and ones that are only gray and white, and every last one of them  is called a Dark-Eyed Junco. When I visited my sister in Colorado, I saw some real cool-looking bluish birds with rusty backs. I'd never seen them before, but they acted like juncos. And guess what they turned out to be? Juncos. Dark-Eyed Juncos, just like mine.

It's a little disheartening when you're already a sort of shitty birder and you've spent all that time peering through your binoculars and totting up all the ways your birds are not at all like each other, only to be told they're one and the same. You've got one wearing a gray vest and a dark topcoat, and one with an executioner's hood, and one is mostly gray, and one might even have a corporal's stripes on his wings, but you do not have four different birds there. You get to add only one of them to your Life List. You can score a different junco if it turns out to be a Yellow-Eyed Junco, but he's about to be on the other side of Trump's wall.

Meanwhile, we have three different brands of chickadee here, the Black-Capped being the most common, and they look different from each other, but no more so than the Dark-Eyed Juncos do. However, elsewhere in the country, you might find yourself in territory shared by the Black-Capped and the Carolina Chickadees. Good luck telling those bastards apart. Evidently there's a line north of which you have your black-capped and south of which you have your Carolina, but unless one of them has a drawl, there ain't no difference between them. One is the eensiest bit greener on the back, until the light changes, and the other is slightly less fluffy, unless it's cold. I recently gazed at painted renditions of the two and I couldn't tell them apart even with the captions and arrows pointing out the differences. You want to add a Carolina chickadee to your life list, you can probably put a black-capped in a shoebox and drive south with it.

The good news is Sid the cat got run over by a car. My neighbor has his ashes and I invited her to sprinkle some under our bird feeder, since that was his favorite place to hang out. She said she would. Maybe if all those different juncos figure out who to bang this spring, they can use the calcium for their egg shells.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

I Feel Pooty, Oh So Pooty

From Trousering Your Weasel
We all like to think we have affected people in positive ways, so it is with great humility and gratitude that I acknowledge, here, the four thousand people who saw the link about the fart tracking pill and passed it along. Australian scientists have developed a device the size of a large pill that is capable of monitoring the development and culmination of your fartular output in real time. This might be the greatest advance in highly personal meteorology the world has ever seen. The "pill" is capable of sending gas updates, as they happen, to your smart phone.

I do not know what the alert notification might sound like.

There is no camera associated with the pill, because of insoluble problems with the selfie stick. It's just a gas-permeable membrane, a transmitter, and a reservoir for the scrubbing bubbles.

The fart-tracker pill uses wireless technology, which is good in most respects, except for retrieval; as it is, lacking a cable, we have to wait for the pill to ride the 7:15 Morning Express to the station, and someone has to be on the platform to meet it, most likely a graduate student. Researchers have discovered that, on average, it takes about twenty hours to see the device all the way through to the depot. That seems like a long time, but the entire intestine is a big slip-n-slide, nearly eight miles long in American humans and even more kilometers everywhere else, and you don't want to take those corners too fast. Research subjects given a very low fiber diet report that the pill spends as much as 54 hours in the colon, and why not? If you're comfortably cushioned in a goober of Wonder Bread and Cheez Doodles, why not relax and enjoy it?

None of these statistics apply to Dave, who has the metabolism of a tweaker hummingbird. There isn't a research study he can't skew. Gaping wounds heal up before you can find the Band-Aid box, crippling back injuries are resolved within hours if there's no one to fetch him a beer, and when he had his first post-colonoscopy meal, he was able to say hello to his little friend later the same day. One time in Maine my cousin Jim, who had some sort of relationship with the lobster cartel, presented Dave with over five pounds of personal lobster just for the entertainment of watching it disappear, drenched in melted butter. That night, sound asleep, he tossed and turned and moaned and grunted and cried out and flang his arms around so violently that I considered taking him to the emergency room in case he was about to have a heart attack, but by dawn's early light he did a full kip out of bed and stuck the landing and was ready for breakfast. If Dave were to swallow a fart-tracker pill, it could take an eye out.

Did you know that in certain clinical situations a tube is inserted into the rectum to collect gases in something called a "flatus bag?" This is generally employed when the patient is otherwise unable to fart, but I'm not sure why you'd need anything other than the open-ended tube for that. I don't see why anything in there needs to be collected in a bag unless you've got some serious pranksters on the unit. If anyone had collected my post-colonoscopy flatus and failed to properly secure the bag, they'd run the risk of flying around the room backwards.

As much as we'd like it to, the fart tracker is not actually used to track individual, nameable farts, but does monitor carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and oxygen levels at all points of the digestive tract. My beloved methane, which I call a noble gas even though it isn't one, is not on the menu. Interestingly, methane itself has no odor at all. In fact, of all the gases that are expelled from the human anus, only one percent has any stink to it. One percent. That sounds familiar, somehow.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Get Me Fig Leaf, Stat!

As it happens---I have no control over it--I'm more interested in looking at naked men than naked women. This concerned me back in the '70s when I thought it was important to be open to any experience, and I thought it was probably a character flaw that I didn't get the same feelings about girls that I did about boys. But after a while you grow up and realize your feelings are nothing more than your feelings, and you're better off being honest about them, and why not drink beer at ten o'clock in the morning? Ha ha! Oh wait, that's a different subject.

Anyhoo, nothing much has changed, and if I'd rather admire David Robinson from behind at the free throw line than watch an ice princess doing triple spatchcocks in flesh-colored Spandex, I've come to accept that about myself. I like the entire human lineup, basically, but I hew more to the masculine form. And not just because most men can pick me up like I'm a tortilla chip. Even so, it's not the genitals that attract me. In fact, I'm not even that interested in looking at the junk.

I mean, it's weird. You've got all this smooth muscle going on and that lovely shoulder form and taut neck and those hairy forearms and the chiseled, um, stern, and then there are all these squishy bits flopping around amidships like a tiny mutiny going on. They've got no control over it at all. Can you even imagine that? I mean, maybe half of you can. It's like there's a whole puppet show going on in your crotch. The underpants are just the curtain. The main character has a face, but it's not a poker face. Nuh-uh. The supporting cast members are bobbing up and down like Muppets in the floodlights. It's nuts! Some of it is nuts.

Well, it's entertaining, but it's goofy. I do find it interesting, and it gets more interesting the closer you examine it--I've found--but that's like turning over a compost pile. You don't know if everything's going to be inert, or if something's going to be wiggling around in there.

But it's not really, if you don't mind my saying so, handsome.

I can well appreciate that men are nervous about what other people are going to think of their sporting equipment, but they shouldn't worry. No matter the proprietor, it's all sort of silly-looking, if endearingly vulnerable. I've got nothing against any of it, at least at the moment. But it's nothing I feel like I need to see.

Which brings us, as everything else does, to the current horrifying state of the world, to situations so appalling that I, like many of you, have had to cut back on my news diet just to keep from wanting to pin myself out for the vultures. We have to walk that fine line between keeping ourselves informed and contemplating slit wrists as a cure for insomnia. It's bleak. But it can get even worse. For the second time in four administrations, we are looking at the real threat that someone, somewhere will tell the press what the President's junk looks like. Lord, have mercy. The powers that be have always wanted to keep us ignorant. Please, please, don't let them stop now.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Support Hamster

I would have been inclined to scoff at the notion of emotional support animals were it not for the example of our cat Tater. Tater is not an emotional support animal herself: she's good company, but we do okay without  her. She's always willing to climb on Dave's lap and grab a knee when he's feeling down, but since she also does it when he's tip top, it feels like a bit of a stretch to claim she's emotionally intuitive, rather than just a little chilly or wants her butt scratched. For a long time we all recognized the guide dogs for the blind as being your prototypical support animal--you can tell them by that furtive apologetic glance they give you that says "You look nice but I'm not allowed to play right now"--but there've been some interesting additions: dogs that clue into blood sugar levels, that detect seizures before they happen, and other amazing things.

Tater is not in that league. But she has a support hamster. Her support hamster is very important to her. It is not a real hamster; it's a stuffed plush hamster. Also, it's not a hamster either, but "support gerbil" sounds ridiculous. Although she'll run after almost any toy you throw for her, she will ignore you completely if you toss her support hamster. It's vital that you not know how special it is. And when she's under stress, which would be every time Dave leaves the house, she starts yowling and picks up her hamster and moves it somewhere else in the house to keep it safe. We guess that's why, anyway. The hamster has been relocated at least once a day for years and there isn't a tooth mark in it.

Around Portland, people have been claiming support dogs for years now, but they don't even have to buy the little vest anymore. Merchants have given up. Dogs get to go anywhere they want to. They can even go on the merchandise and the storekeepers write their Lysol and mops off their taxes. A support dog doesn't have to be a basic Lab or a German Shepherd. He can even live in your purse and guard your Kleenex stash.

We have a neighbor who feels very strongly that her dog, who is outside barking anytime between 4am and midnight, is a support animal. She has pointedly refused offers to help with training or purchase a bark collar and says the barking makes her feel safe. Although the only people likely to be a threat are her sleep-deprived neighbors. There's a dot or two she ain't connecting.

But there are support dogs and support rabbits and now, famously, a support peacock named Dexter who was turned back at the gate by employees of United Airlines, with good reason. You'd have to give a support peacock the middle seat and Aisle and Window would have to vacate every time he got a little peacock boner. (That's just an expression. Peacocks don't have boners but they do get wide when they're inspired.) It's nice to see an airline take a stand on this issue. I used to take our dog Boomer on flights back in the '80s but she snoozed in a crate in cargo. Nowadays she could fly right alongside me as a support animal, but I don't know. Seems like if we had myriad support dogs and support cats and support parakeets sharing the same airplane, and I guess we do, they'd kind of be obligated to bring back the smoking section, wouldn't they?

Anyway, I'm not likely to take advantage of the airlines that way. The critters that really bother me on airplanes are those damned viruses. I'm packing my support bacteria just in case.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

All Night, All Day, Watching Over Me

Here's the thing about birds. They're always doing something you should know about.  They're beautiful, even the ugly ones. They're all over the place. And if you pay attention to them, you will find yourself several notches happier, effortlessly. Besides, they're paying attention to you.

And yet most people pay so little attention to birds that they can't identify more than three or four. Here we are, under constant surveillance, and we're walking around completely oblivious to it, like the birds are Homeland Security or Facebook or something.

So I've advised people over the years to get in the habit of noticing birds. The noticing of birds is its own reward. After a while you're paying more attention to their troubles than your own, which is healthy, and cheering on their social conquests, and whacking neighbor cats on their behalf, and you're getting to know where to look for individual ones and what kind of nest they might be cooking up, and you're driving your car with your head out the window staring straight up, which can get loud and exciting too.

You could see someone special.
I might be amazed now at how unaware people are of what is all around them every day, but I used to be pretty unobservant myself. I remember thirty years ago Dave and I noticed that crows kept flying over the house heading southwest right around beer-thirty. That was the extent of our scrutiny. We didn't know where they were going or if it was just a little group of them going to Book Group in the next block or what. Years later, when we were paying attention and doing a lot more walkabouts, we realized they were going downtown for the night, and they were gathering in big groups, and we did a little research and found out they like to roost together most of the year and only stay in their home trees during nesting season. And we began to admire them more and more. Their roosting place varied. Sometimes it was the south end of town, sometimes north, sometimes midtown. They'd fly around and make a bunch of noise, and we'd be home before they turned in proper.

A lot of people only notice birds when they poop. A while ago a woman wrote a letter to the editor. She'd encountered massive amounts of bird poop on the street and sidewalks and was incensed that the city didn't clean it up more often. Disease! Pestilence! Dry cleaning bills! She was het up. Sugar? You're in a city that owns one snow plow and employs a single pothole dude with a bucket. We aren't going to have a poop removal force. That's what rain is for.

So now I'm constantly watching crows and reading up on them and using words like "tactile rictal bristles" without embarrassment and, in general, thinking I know some stuff. And then my own oblivitude rears its baffled head yet again. I'm downtown for my monthly date with my friend Pat Lichen. I'd walked around a bit in the dark, vaguely taking in an interesting polkadot pattern on the pavement, without giving it much thought. When I meet Pat, she asks if I'd seen the heroic amount of bird poop on the street. Shoot! Of course. Usually when you see a bunch of bird shit it's all in a row under a light post or something, but this was all over evenly, like a Jackson Pollock painting, so it hadn't registered for me. "Don't look up!" I joked.

Learned that lesson more than once.

But we couldn't help it. We looked up. And there, in the dark winter silhouettes of elm branches, for blocks and blocks, with the starry sky beyond, were large black shapes, sleeping crows, thousands of sleeping crows, motionless, presiding over us heedless goofs below with our blathering and our headlights and our traffic and our pointless noise. A soft stratum of feathered life, a blanket over us all. We both knew about the roosts. But we'd never looked up.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Quantum Alchemy

I'm obliged to frequent commentatrix Knittergran for pointing me to the amazing Crystal Light Bed. The Crystal Light Bed allows you to cleanse, balance, and align your energies, and if you go to a reputable dealer, you can even commune with certain curated angels, arranged alphabetically from Ariel to Zadkiel. As these things go, this sounds promising to me, inasmuch as my favorite state of being is horizontal.

The Crystal Light Bed is used by various practitioners around the world although it was invented by someone named John Of God, who sounds plenty qualified to me right there. One such is Kalisa Augustine (Kalisa Of Brooklyn), who, according to her website, uses spiritual technology and quantum alchemy to detoxify and purify the electromagnetic field, and Lord knows somebody needed to do that after all these years of neglect. Quantum alchemy is best left to the most certifiable masters of charlatanism, so it is comforting to note that Kalisa is quite blonde and has a nice set of credentials on her.

The basic idea of the Crystal Light Bed is simple. The client lies down on an ordinary massage table, facing up, and seven quartz crystals are set dangling twelve inches above his seven major chakras, pointy side down. Edgar Allan Poe probably had a bed just like it. The seven chakras are aligned, ideally, at various points along the body's median strip from crotch to bald spot, so the crystals are arranged like track lighting. Oh, they're also lit up with colors that match the accompanying chakra color, and polished with a holy shamwow. I would imagine the array concentrates the mind wonderfully, especially the crystal hovering above the Root Chakra. (Don't bother googling the Root Chakra. You all know perfectly well where that is.)

Ms. Augustine of Brooklyn goes on to explain that a crystal's natural structure is a six-sided prism with a terminated end. You definitely don't want the kind of end that goes on and on. This is not actually accurate with regard to any number of crystals I can think of, but it does describe quartz, so we'll let it go this time. She says crystals share this configuration with water and energy molecules.

[Energy molecules are principally composed of excitement atoms and zest, and remain mysterious to science to this day.]

In a nutshell, Kalisa's crystal bed is a "multisensory, meditative, cleansing experience that takes you into greater realms of depth." In fact, you can't really get much deeper.

I am not by nature wooful, but I accept that I too have at least seven chakras, in the same way I accept that I harbor a spleen, somewhere. I'm not intimate with them. The meridians are the pathways for the qi between the various chakras, as I understand it, and it's important to keep them reamed out so you don't clog your life force. This is all somewhat more challenging for me, because one side of my chest--for the moment, we're going to refer to these as "sides of my chest"--is much bigger than the other side of my chest, and that throws off the meridians, which have to make a little pivot halfway to my brain. In general, any sort of reboot of my spiritual body is going to be problematic, because I haven't even taken it out of the box yet.

They don't have a crystal light bed for every possibility. Some believe there are as many as twelve chakras, and the extraneous ones are located outside of the body. For instance, the galactic chakra (#11) is located just above the solar chakra, somewhere above your head where the lightbulb would be if you had a thought, and allows you to transcend space and time and even access the Akashic Records, the library of all that was ever or will ever be human. This is not as big a deal now since the Akashic Records went digital. The Universal Chakra (#12) is even farther out. Theoretically, with the universal chakra you can achieve enlightenment and operate all your devices at once, but it never works as advertised.

Basically, the 12th chakra is out there with Pluto, and I hope they're having a good time. We're not going to worry about it now. It's not practical to make a Crystal Light Bed for all the chakras that might potentially be found. You'd end up sleeping inside a geode.